The bittersweet memories held within my backpack


Jonathan Kang, Editor-in-Chief

“How old is your backpack?”
As I walked to band rehearsal one day, I was met with that question and was taken aback­­—how old really was my backpack? I instinctively said “I don’t know, but it’s super old.”
Then, as I thought more about it, I realized that I’ve had the same backpack since seventh grade (miraculously, considering what middle schoolers are capable of), making it my backpack for the past six years of my life.
The thought of replacing my backpack had never even occurred to me, but as I began looking it over I realized just how worn down it was. Some zippers were falling off and the bag didn’t even close in certain places, with the original black color dulling to gray. At the same time, there’s something so endearing about my backpack: the one that was with me in my seventh grade science class and still with me as I enter Room 1102 ready to graduate high school.
Honestly, as much as I’d like to admit that I’m one to actively seek change and explore new and exciting opportunities, reality often does not pan out as imagined. I can get pretty comfortable staying in my lane, and that applies to my backpack too: I had never stepped back far enough to see that I needed a new one, when, objectively, I should have replaced it a long time ago.
And I think that was exactly my mindset on the transition out of high school.
Although I often complain about senioritis and wanting to graduate so that I can leave behind AP Government papers and AP Literature assignments, there’s a certain comforting quality to being in high school with familiar students, many of whom you’ve been in school with since elementary school. That seemingly disappears when you move forward in the world and have to graduate, and the fear of losing something dear to me that I can’t replace has kept me in a stasis.
So, perhaps out of an unconscious desire to keep that sense of familiarity, I’ve kept my backpack for all of these years. Of course, I don’t regret it at all: the memories that are contained in the leather confines of my bag serve as a reminder of just how far I’ve come, not just academically but from the shy middle schooler I once was to who I am now.
However, my backpack no longer serves the fullest purpose it needs to fulfill, and I’ve discovered that I need to keep looking forward and exploring new things to truly see what is best for me.
In this way, my biggest takeaway from this year is simply to keep trying new things and exploring new avenues for my future regardless of the comfort I feel in the moment. Growth and progression can only come from taking yourself outside of your comfort zone, so I want to really take a step back and find ways to challenge myself to learn new things.
As I already said about myself earlier, I’m not one to seek new things without something external causing me to want to change. However, I think that’s exactly how I can grow, by finding new opportunities myself instead of relying on something else to push me towards a change.
So, I’ll keep going and moving forward, regardless of the position I find myself in the moment. After all, I’m sure that’s what the young seventh-grade me would have wanted.
I’ll still keep my backpack in the corner of my room and cherish it for the memories, because frankly, it represents such a significant and foundational time of my life. But, I’m going to make the next few years a time of exploration, and for that I need something a little sturdier to carry all my items in. That’s why I’m going to get a new backpack for next year.